Ways for writers to fail at social media

Social media marketing techniques that don’t work for writers — or, at least, fail to make me want to buy your book:

  1. Create a Facebook profile for the hero of your debut novel. Tell nobody that the profile belongs to a fictitious character. Pretend that the profile belongs to an actual human being. Have your hero send me a friend request.
  2. Create a Twitter account in the name of the villain of your new mystery. Follow hundreds and hundreds of people in the hopes they’ll automatically follow back. Update the character’s status every three minutes with links to your author website.
  3. Send me an email that opens: “I think my boss is a serial killer. No, seriously.” Followed by the unsolicited first chapter of your NSFW novel. Followed by a request for a blurb.

I don’t know — maybe I’m crazy, but these techniques don’t work on me. Anybody else?

24 responses to “Ways for writers to fail at social media

  1. (Scratches three items from my to-do list.)

    Looks like sound advice.

  2. Uh oh. Stephen King had a marketing campaign for his characters from Under The Dome where his fictitious town of Chester’s Mill had it’s own Web site. There were people pretending to be people in the book — with blogs and newspaper articles. I wrote a couple things as their town newspaper girl, Julia Shumway.

  3. its own Web site. Its. dammit.

  4. Oh, and here’s the link to Scarecrow Joe’s blog from Under the Dome.


  5. Well I don’t know one way or the other, as I’ve never done that kind of research, or have any where close to that kind of curiosity.
    My fiction reading material decision making process, well, let’s just say is much more simple (or simple minded if one prefers).
    When I look a shelf of books, with all those colorful shiny jackets and them clever little blurbs, all designed to sizzle & snizzle my wee little brain synapses into a fiction frolicking frenzy, I always start with the ones written by someone named Meg first.
    (Oh BOOM! Now that is what I’d call some serious major suck up excellence bar none!..Mmm hmm yeah, I still got it)
    Seriously though, I really never knew that kind of use of any of that junk even existed…but then, I am a grizzled Luddite at heart, and have only gotten this far kickin’ & screamin’ (I mean, I’m still holding out hope for the come back of the 8-Track…oh sure snicker now, but you’ll see, you’ll allll see!)

    Dana Jean (Happy Birthday by the way!…did ya shove the ice cream & cake down your drawers yet?…fun idnit?!), are you tellin’ me I was snookered hoodwinked & bamboozled, and all that wasn’t for real?…gee whiz, I’m such a hopeless sucker.
    (I really am too, I ain’t tellin’ how long it took for me to figure out that Scarecrow Joe wasn’t a real live member of the SK board…have I ever mentioned my middle name is Obtuse?)

    • You’re obtuse, Pat? Three Beta Testers were directly involved in that coup and I didn’t realise either.
      I think I put the ‘ob’ in obtuse. 😳

      And ittoday on the irthdaybay ishesway. 🙂 xox.

    • Thank you and no, I had no cake. But I did eat almost a bag of donuts. And for some odd reason, I’m feeling sort of icky today. Go figure.

      Once details of the book started coming out, more people realized they were fictional characters. But, it took a while.

  6. Dana Jean: The Chester’s Mill site is a wonderful idea, and is not what I’m talking about here. The Chester’s Mill site is obviously set up to invite readers to invoke their imaginations and join a community that’s patently fictitious. Everybody who participates knows this, and joins in the fun.

    What I’m talking about in this post — and probably could have made clearer — are instances where writers push their wares on “friends” and other writers without invitation and without making it clear that the messages they’ve sent are from fictitious people. They’re sending these messages as if they’re for real. That’s obnoxious.

    • Oh, I see what you’re saying. The Chester’s Mill site was set up for fun and there was also a contest involved.

  7. Opey Obtuse here again, huh, you say there was a contest involved there pa-a-a-w, uhh, Aunt Bee, uhhh Dana 🙂 ?

    So what’s the point behind this practice Meg?
    Is it for future potential positive cover blurbage, maybe to tweak some buzz, or hey, perhaps believing even one sale at a time, is a sale is a sale is a sale?
    Hmm, I’m going with someone has too much free time on their hands, I mean could totally relate to that.
    My own unsolicited, fictitious, and most obnoxious online campaign, shall begin post haste…me thinks you have created another virtual monster in the electronic ether!
    Ah crud, you did say something about it requiring “friends” to send them to, not to mention I don’t have a clue as to what I’m hawkin’ (though I do have a rather kickin’ Key Lime Pie recipe), much less a target industry…ya figure them’s prerequisites?
    On the other hand, it would seem as if my new venture has no professional boundaries, victims just needs a taste for high quality pie (eh, or not)!

  8. Annette Sandoval

    Ouch, Meg!

    I just read your blog and was shocked to find the subject heading of an email I recently sent to you.

    Since you were comfortable sharing some of my correspondence with your readers, I felt I should tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Annette. I’m a Mexican/American who cleans houses for a living.

    The reason I wrote to you is because I am bone-tired of my work and want nothing more than to live off of the fruits of my imagination. I don’t know anyone in the publishing business. I guess I was hoping you’d give it a read, then drop me a note.

    Yeah, I failed at your social media market techniques by sending you an unsolicited email. But all you had to say was “no,” or just ignore it.

    Here it is:

    “Ways for writers to fail at social media”

    “Social media marketing techniques that don’t work for writers — or, at least, fail to make me want to buy your book:

    3. Send me an email that opens: “I think my boss is a serial killer. No, seriously.” Followed by the unsolicited first chapter of your NSFW novel. Followed by a request for a blurb.

    I don’t know — maybe I’m crazy, but these techniques don’t work on me. Anybody else?”

    Oh, and Meg. I wouldn’t call you crazy…

  9. Hi Annette:

    I didn’t mention your name in the post because I didn’t want to focus attention on you personally. I decided to mention the email because it’s been sent to me before. And I’m sorry, but that, along with the format, led me to think it was a marketing mass-mailing, which had been sent to many people along with me. There was no salutation or personal message, and no signature. The message was long and comprehensively formatted. The first section was mocked up like a business memo, in Courier with the note: INTEROFFICE MEMO. The synopsis and first chapter were in a print-style typeface. The message included author photos, and the author biography was written in the third person.

    Anyway, those are the reasons I thought it was an impersonal marketing newsletter, rather than a personal message written in the hope of starting a correspondence. Or that’s what I figured after I got past the shock of opening the message and reading, with no warning, “My boss is a serial killer. No, seriously. If that’s not scary enough, he’s got a crush on me! This sucks.”

    If you wanted an emotional reaction to that, you got it. For a few seconds, I wondered: Is this message from a woman who genuinely fears for her safety? Maybe that wasn’t your intent, but it was my reaction. That’s because I get all kinds of emails from strangers – people write out of the blue to tell me their life stories, describe traumas in their childhoods, ask for money, or find out if I ever have the urge just to go out and stab somebody, multiple times, for no reason.

    I’m not joking.

    So my default setting is to take words seriously, until I have evidence that they’re meant as a joke. The thing is, during those seconds after I opened your email, I scanned the rest of the message, trying to discern whether somebody might be in trouble, and worrying: if it’s real, what will I do? Does this person need help?

    So when it became clear that the opening was a grabber – a marketing hook – my reaction wasn’t amusement. Or even relief. More like: that wasn’t fun.

    And I have to be honest: as a stranger, I’m not in a good position to get you into publishing. All I can suggest is that you query agents. I’ve been an aspiring writer, and that’s my best suggestion.

    Good luck.

  10. Annette Sandoval

    Yes, Flake.

    I get paid to clean houses.

    I make crap-fifty an hour.

  11. Hmmm, I wonder what that is in New Zealand dollars?

    JK… in all seriousness, I’m sorry you’re having a difficult time getting out of the crapper – I can attest to knowing what that feels like. But I think Meg made a good call from the information she received via the email.

    Good luck with getting your work out there.

  12. Annette Sandoval

    Actually, Meg made a good call from the information that you received, Flakes.

    The subject heading I sent to her read, “Please forward to Meg.” I can’t, for the life of me, see how she’d assumed it was spam. There was nothing about watches, erections, or discount pharmacies.

    When I read the blog, the one that made fun of my email, it was so… high school.

    ¡Qué lástima!

    • As Meg never did mention that she thought your email was spam, your last post to me is confusing.

      I don’t agree with you that the initial blog sounded “high school” – but the back and forth between you and I since that post, does. So I’ll stop.

      Again, good luck to you in the future.

  13. Annette: Please don’t imply that I was trying to mislead readers of the blog. The format and content of your message led me to think it was a marketing mailing, and the subject heading didn’t make me believe otherwise, because e-mail newsletter services often allow a sender to include the recipient’s name in the subject line or salutation. The “Please forward to Meg” threw me as well, because there’s nobody here but me. I didn’t think the e-mail was spam, and never said that. But I didn’t think it was a personal message. What I wrote in the comment above was my genuine reaction.

  14. Woo hoo! Best bloggerly dust-up I’ve read in a while.

  15. Annette Sandoval


  16. Fine. This thread is done. Comments now closed.